Common Sense is the process of learning conforming to the rules of right conduct and the purpose is to get the key to the “Best Possible Decision” in a particular landscape.
Common Sense does not emerge suddenly and abruptly or not be decided for in the heavens but it is made up of different sources.
Best Possible Decision is one which is taken when things are taken as they are and are done as they should be done. Common Sense Process helps us to get more approximate to this gradually. Common Sense does not emerge suddenly and abruptly or not be decided for in the heavens but it is made up of different sources and the vistas of those sources are different for every individual and for every situation. The point at which the vistas of these sources intersect each other is the range of Common Sense.
This range is distinct for each individual and every new situation. Common Sense is dynamic and relative because in each instance the range and properties of intersection area are different. This way Common Sense becomes tough to define like fragrance in the flowers but it is the essence; sources are details which are tangible and procedures the constrict; the smell; the Common Sense.
Now the question is what these Common Sense sources comprise of and how do they affect our lives by suggesting a different action in every distinct situation.
We cannot survive without various sources contributing to our survival. Our existence could become possible in presence of some diverse sources. In our lives, at a point of time, some of them may be playing vital role and some subtle. On the other point of time subtle ones in the prior case may be playing vital and vitals subtle.
You would have also experienced that one or two sources are playing part in each moment of your life and you have stopped noticing them and they are so vital that the existence incepts from them like are your breathe.
The same way, Common Sense has its sources which are - both, permanent and renewable, in the course and Common Sense originates out of these sources.
Essentially, for all intents and purposes, Common Sense has two sources, experience of others and my experience.
Experience of others comprises of firstly, fundamental and natural laws and then time-tested facts.
My Experience is woven with cultural, social and situational strings that covers values, key life issues and building blocks of our lives.
EXPERIENCE OF OTHERS
Experience of others are explorations of truth.
All the experiences of others cannot be taken just as the experience of others as these are the established truths which have been experienced, verified and approved by all and are found true and applicable universally and timelessly. They have not created it, it exists from the time of eternity, they have verified and approved the power of these rules. These rules are called the principles, the guides, the lighthouse of the morality. They play their roles.
Disbelieving that there are principles can't prevent you from the consequences of principles. Same as not believing in Gravity can't prevent you from Gravity; it is a principle. Principles are the most powerful forces in the universe and are the breath of Common Sense. These are the rules used in the creation and conduct of the universe and have been handed down through eternity. These are also called generalized principles that are true in all cases, in all circumstances. They cannot be changed. They can't be broken. They work for all, every time with zero failure. These are only those universal and timeless laws which always lead us towards morality, right conduct. Principles assure distinction between right and wrong and well being of the entirety.
These principles could better be understood in two slices:
- Ethical Principles
- Principles of Life
This slice is intended to explain key ethical principles that are relevant in all circumstances. These are those Principles which are most foundational. These are the standpoints from which guidance can be obtained along the length of the path of life in the form of the principles of life. These principles are the ground work for the cultivation of Common Sense.
As we have understood that the common natural understanding is found in four forms and the first form is the universal and timeless principles.
The universal and timeless principles could interchangeably be called Ethical Principles. The extensive research over these principles reveals six Ethical Principles.
The first is :
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
It is also called ethic of reciprocity. It says, do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you. One has a right to fair treatment and a responsibility to ensure justice for others.
Whatever we do comes back to us stronger. You push me, I'll push you harder. You punch me. I'll thud you down. So if you want the world to treat you better, treat it better first. There are basic demonstrations of this principle that never go out of form like saying thanks, good morning, pardon me, I'm sorry, repaying what you owe, opening doors for others, being polite and always feeling that the truth could be a good start.
Long time ago in a village, a girl married and went to her in-laws house to live with them. Sooner she found that it's almost impossible to live with her mother-in-law as they were contrary to each other and were thus quarreling constantly. As in traditional Indian families, the girl had to obey her mother-in-law for everything and it made the situation worse to the extent that the girl decided to do something about it. She went to her uncle who used to sell herbal medicines. She told him the entire story and asked for some poison to get rid of this problem forever.
Her uncle gave her some medicines and suggested – I am giving slow poison, in case of quick poison death people will suspect you. Prepare good food everyday as this medicine works well with good food, mix the medicine in that till the day she dies. Act very friendly, obey her otherwise people may suspect you. Girl thanked her uncle, came back and started acting as he prescribed. Four months passed, the whole household changed. The girl got into the habit of controlling her temper as a result the mother in law is much polite and easier to get along with. She began to love her like her own daughter.
How you treat others is just how they treat you so you need to check your actions towards others.
One day girl went to the same uncle and asked to save her mother-in-law from those medicines as the mother-in-law is changed and she wants to live with her. Uncle told tenderly that he has not given any poison but vitamins to improve her health and said- “Your mother-in-law treats you exactly how you treat her.”
How you treat others is just how they treat you so you need to check your actions towards others.
The golden rule has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, and is a standard which different cultures use to resolve conflicts; it was present in the philosophies of ancient, India, Greece, and China. Principle philosophers and religious figures have stated it in different ways.
The second is Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative:
“If an action is not right for everyone to take, then it is not right for anyone.”
We constantly fight with our proclivity, fondness and preferences, our unrefined wants and wishes but we have to get ourselves pulled out of it to follow the same for everyone. A wrong action by anyone or to anyone is never justifiable.
Hari noticed his servant being thieve occasionally with his friend. He told it to his mother that this may ruin the servant's life. Mother overlooked as she thought why to poke her nose into servant's issues, what she is going to get for doing this. Day by day, the servant became cleverer and one day cheated the family for their valuable household materials.
Overlooking became unaffordable and unjustifiable. See the people and their actions with same eyes.
We must abide by the importance of the morality of duty towards team as well as other. A sense of guilt and shame creeps in when we violate it. This principle could be practiced by mulling over the choice through reasoning.
The third is Descartes Rule of Change:
“If an action cannot be taken repeatedly, then it is not right to be taken at any time.”
The whisk of smoke of your first cigarettes may make you feel as you are the man of the world but repetition costs heavily on your health. The first step towards such addictions approves repetition. If it is not worth repeatable then it must not be chosen. Infatuation is like magic. Can you afford it again and again? Should the taxes be paid for nothing?
The fourth is Utilitarian Principle:
“Put values in rank order and understand consequences of various courses of action.”
It is also known as “The Greatest Happiness Principle”. Utilitarianism can thus be characterized as a reductionist approach to ethics. Like any ethical theory, the application is heavily dependent on the person's wisdom, experience, social skills, and life skills and includes the consideration for other people.
The approach is to draw moral values of an action. The moral worth of an action is determined by its intended outcome, the utility of decision; the contribution to overall happiness and pleasure in entirety. The purpose is to maximize the utility of decision as happiness or pleasure being of ultimate importance.
The fifth is Risk Aversion Principle:
“Take the action that produces the least harm or incurs the least cost.”
It is related to the behavior under uncertainty. It is to calculate the expected values of actions. A connection is made between the expected values of an action and its cost. It is based on what happens when action is repeated ones and over again. If the action is repeated then stakes get higher every time. Risk aversion makes us more cautious.
Sixth is “No Free Lunch” Rule:
“All tangible and intangible objects are owned by creator who wants compensation for the work.”
A mosquito saw a dog barking. Mosquito had heard that dogs work for men. The mosquito very proud for he feeds on man's blood and don't do anything for them.
The mosquito said to dog-I never do anything for men still I feed on their blood and you so big and strong work for them!
The dog replied – If I work for men, they are very kind to me but never for you. They take care of me in everyway, feed me, shelter me and pat me on my back, head and treat with love and affection and on the other hand they are always upto destroy you.
Repayment always connects. The sources you are taking from need to be repaid in some way to get maintained and protected for further use. So it is very important for us to cultivate the habit of contributing so the valuables don't perish and an environment of mutual growth be maintained. It doesn't demand big. If you use some library, you may contribute by making sure that you keep silence and motivate others to do it. You may clean your shoes on door mat before entering inside.
You may concentrate in the class or meeting to repay the infrastructural expenses as an act to payback the society the outcomes and achievements. This way we come into the habit of repaying what we get.
PRINCIPLES OF LIFE
Principles of life are derived from ethical principles. You need to practice the ethical principles in your everyday life but they need to be translated and once you get the translation, you would be able to make it a part of your life forever. These basic universal principles of life are applicable universally to everyone, everywhere regardless of occasion, system, belief or cultural back drop. This could be the start of a new fangled life. There is no secret of life other than developing profound understanding of how these fantastic and wondrous rules of life readily and consistently operate as they do. These are the rules controlling the entire universe to exist, flourish and expand. Following are the principles that play their role vitally in the course of our life & fulfillment of its purpose –
- Concern for the well being of others
- Respect for the autonomy for others, confidentiality
- Trustworthiness and honesty
- Basic justice, being fair, impartial, objective
- Refusing to take unfair advantage
- Benevolence: doing good
- Preventing harm
- Due diligence
- Global justice (as reflected in international laws)
- Society before self/social responsibility
- Environment stewardship
- A Interdependence and responsibility for the whole
- Willing compliance with the law.
- Reverence for place
A person's own experiences come from three sources- his values, his own set of key life issues, and building blocks of life.
Let's explore these pillars of one's own experiences.
Achievement is in the list among those what one values. (Appendix B)
Achievement is a principle as it is timeless as existing from the start, it is universal as applies everywhere, it is moral as it leads towards happiness of entirety. But how important it is in your life when you make list of 'what matters most to you'? The rank given to it by you will decide its value in your life so the values are nothing but the prioritized sequence of timeless-universal-moral principles arranged in an order based on what we find strongly worthwhile. Principles are generic in nature, applicable to all whereas values are personal in each case; your values are the list of principles prioritized in order of your personal view. Principles are about rights and wrongs in broad terms; Values are about which right is more right to you. What is more right to you depends on who you are and what goals you have set for you.
We have a choice as how to respond to the things that are coming to us. A life based on personal code of values makes responding easier and brings meaning, purpose, direction and above all satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
We have values in our all sorts of life- Physical, Mental, Familial, Social, Emotional and Spiritual. In all these sorts of life there are governing principles and we give them ranks based on which one we find vital depending on our experience, key life issues and building blocks of life. These are your experiences turned beliefs and ethics rolled into one.
Values are deep seated but keep changing.
Values change lifelong.
Diverse and myriad state waits for us to get along with for life long before we take birth, rather say, with our beginning. These could be our parents, their thought process, attitude, mannerism, outlook & a whole digest created by them, like family status, siblings, extended family and the netting of them and the effects of those; a whole multifarious but shared world. Gradually we grow up, our age influences our values. Different people and things influence us at different age levels. After you are fully grown up; you are in age group of 18-20, your values are established and life starts opening situations to you to test your values. Values change lifelong with the change in the combination of and outlook for the key life issues resulting in the change in experience and in the view. They are under constant process of assembling- dissolution - recreation-adoption. I used to rank working alone higher than working together but now latter has higher rank for me. Values are deep seated but keep changing. Going abroad for education or employment was being treated as below dignity but these days it is prestigious. It shows a move from individual growth to mutual growth in global village. Cinema and Shows used to be shunned by many, today film personalities are icons for the younger age band. This is the transformation of values from pride to inner satisfaction. The more inquisitive the person, the faster the process; faster the pace towards Common Sense.
Values are what is important to you, it is not what you want, what you desire or what you like but it is what creates your wants, desires and likings. A value is a principle intrinsically valuable to you. Values are the moral pillars of our lives. I feel stressed when somebody is insulted in front of me or by me as one of my deeply held values is 'Respect'. It could be my impulse to insult but can not be a value as it doesn't originate out of principle. A principle is characterized by its collectivity of moral or ethical judgments. I feel very good and become more productive when I am given freedom as it is another value of me.
Stress does not come from hard work or multiple roles in life but it comes from value conflict when we undergo a mess of values and becomes unable to honor them in the sequence of our priority, it results in stress so categorization and prioritization of values is a must for growth and development.
You are driving car on the bridge across the river, suddenly you found a child drowning in water crying for help to save his life. You stopped, got down, went to the bank and without thinking much you jumped into water and saved the child. You have displayed the values of Bravery, Responsibility, Humanity, and Care. You have taken action because of these values embedded in you.
The purpose of values is to bring everlasting joy. We spend the biggest chunk of our life's awakened hours to obtain and maintain temporary things. How much time, money or effort we invest to earn lasting values? We human beings with our physical, mental, psychological and emotional limitations and barriers need strong pillars of values to build the bridge over our weaknesses & ill habits to connect ourselves to the Common Sense.
Values that Nurture Us -
- Integrity – Sincerity, Honesty.
- Enthusiasm – Initiative, Decisiveness, Resourcefulness.
- Resolve - Power of Intention, Determination, Commitment, Singularity of Purpose.
- Courage - Self Belief, Confidence.
- Perseverance – Consistency, Persistence, Dedication, Endurance, Resilience, Discipline.
- Humility - Humility comes with Appreciation of one's Strength. It is a combination of Awe, Respect, Gratitude, Compassion, Love.
- Balance - Temperance.
- Contentment - Inner Bliss, Peace of mind, self-knowledge.
We human beings aspire for higher values but the truth prevails that we have some physical, mental, social, emotional boundaries and limitations so a choice is never a direct comprehension of values but a tedious process of selection which is actively influenced by key life issues and passively by life's building blocks.
KEY LIFE ISSUES
Key life issues are situations, concerns or crisis that happens to normal people living normal lives. They make dramatic changes in their usual course of life. In fact, usual life is hypothetical as every individual's life style is moved with some such key life issues.
Let's see in your mind's eye, a four flat apartment which has four distinct families and same as us they have their key life issues.
Mr. & Mrs. Reddy have no descendants but they love their pet dog Rambo, contrary to this their love for each other has faded. Mrs. Reddy couldn't give birth to a baby so she is the reprobate of the family and hence faces ill expressions of Mr. Reddy and his alcohol addiction. She suffers illness and pain physically and more than that mentally, emotionally and psychologically. They dwell in a monotonous life full of charges and blames for each other.
Mr. Vashisth's family is really blessed- it's what their friends and neighbors say.
He has his own real estate business; he is considered as very innovative amongst peers and workaholic as well. His father, alive and healthy, lives with them. The prime concern of Mr. Vashisth's life is health & wealth. He has two childern Ankur and Nupur. He takes excellent care of their diet, physical growth & fitness. Mrs. Vashisth has great faith in family association.
Mr. & Mrs. Shravan were a nice and perfect family but two years ago Mr. Shravan lost his right hand in an accident and also his eligibility for his job & hope of better life with that. Now he has been transferred to a lower job which falls within the perimeter of his physical limitation. Mr. Shravan's ambition was to work abroad which is no more potential now but family is curving according to the new circumstances. They are trying to make out the hope in Kshitij & Anushka- the son and the daughter of the family.
You can see the sanguine face of Mrs. Raju that let you in on the facts that she is very much loved, cared and protected by the husband. Mr. Raju has a fairly good job in the private sector. They got married against the desires of family, as the family was against a lower cast groom. In all such circumstances, they are happy with each other. They love traveling in holidays & it looks as if their separate existence is not possible. Their mutual concern is parenting.
They are not really Vasisths, Reddys, Shravans or Rajus but are the pictures of the families living around us.
The number, combination, degree, extent, penetration, diffusion, and dissemination of the key life issues may vary person-to-person, family-to-family, but they are glued to every social system small to big.
If we observe these four families and its members, we will find that they are weighed down with their different peculiar issues as below–
Family 1 Mr. & Mrs. Reddy
Family 2 Mr. & Mrs. Vasisth
Family 3 Mr. & Mrs. Shravan
Family 4 Mr. & Mrs. Raju
If we continuously keep on watching around us, we might find following or possibly more key life issues playing their roles in lives –
Abuse and violence
Disaster and evil
Discrimination and racism
Divorce and separation
Friends & family
Grief and bereavement
Health and diet
Holiday and travel
Illness and pain
Marriage and parenting
Money and work
Nations and leaders
Pregnancy and loss of child
BUILDING BLOCKS OF LIFE
Life is a single whole structure putting forward itself in the composition of its blocks. Blocks are the components that fit with each other to form the whole- the elementary structure of life.
Building blocks of life –
- State of art of prevailing mode of thinking in the society in general.
- Methods of handling things and affairs of life in vogue.
- Inherited characteristics transferred from generation's biological parents, clan, class, section of society.
- Guidance by peers, parents etc.
These are taken into consideration passively implies that we don't pay heed consciously when comes the moment of choice; these things play their role through our habits and behavior. We not really think about during the judgment process but they flow automatically with the active thought process.
These sources of Common Sense i.e. principles, values, key life issues, and building blocks work in a particular flow and fashion. The closing moments and finale is always subjective to all these sources.
Fig. 5 Sources of Common Sense
Sense of your
life is different from mine.
To sum up, Principles are the prime source of Common Sense; Rest of the sources depends on it. They play rewarding role when synchronized with it.
Rest of the sources are objective and vary in each individual case. This is the reason that there are distinct and particular sets of Common Sense for different individuals at different points of time. The Common Sense of your life is different from mine. As thoroughly as we understand these sources of our lives, the better we become with Common Sense.